Great writers are great readers. The more you read, the more you allow yourself to dive into a free-flowing headspace to unlock your inner creative genius. If you’re looking for encouraging books for writers, here’s a handpicked list I’ve crafted that has helped me keep the apathetic idling—what some call writer’s block—at bay. That’s if you believe in the whimsical not-so-whimsical force that calls us to write.
Without further ado, here is your summertime to-read list for my fellow writers:
1. Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver
Upstream is a collection of essays that venerates and romanticizes the natural world. Poets and writers alike have been known to take much of their inspiration from nature, dating back to the fathers of romanticism such as Wordsworth, Whitman and Keating in the lake district in northern England.
These essays are no exception. I think it‘s a great book for creators to read because Oliver describes the creative writing process with a beautiful poetic prose.
“But first and foremost I learned from Whitman that the poem is a temple—or a green field— a place to enter, and in which to feel. Only in a secondary way is it an intellectual thing—an artifact, a moment of seemly and robust wordiness—wonderful as that part of it is.”Mary Oliver
2. The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield
If you’re a writer or creator of any kind, you need to read this book. It discusses the difference between an amateur and a professional. The amateur wait for their muse to inspire them, the professional sits down every morning at 9am sharp because they known their inspiration will come.
3. The Practice: Shipping Creative Work by Seth Godin
Godin shares pieces of advice broken down one by one to help creators stop procrastinating and start believing in ourselves. It’s about overcoming the fear inside and shipping your work. Being your biggest supporter instead of biggest doubter. I might be making it sound cheesy, but Godin’s examples work in his favor and I found it really inspiring.
“Your work is too important to be left to how you feel today.”Seth Godin
4. The Philosophy of Style by Herbert Spencer
Spencer describes the rules that capture how to best use language. It’s worth a read if you’re a stylistic aficionado, especially if you’re a poet.
“Thus poetry, regarded as a vehicle of thought, is especially impressive partly because it obeys all the laws of effective speech, and partly because in so doing it imitates the natural utterances of excitement.”Herbert Spencer
5. Writers and Lovers by Lily King
Writers and Lovers describes the process of trying to finish a manuscript. The protagonist struggles to find inspiration to continue or finish scenes while dealing with her stressful waitressing job and navigating the beginning and ending of relationships.
She attends a writer’s retreat, weekly book releases at her local book club, and has lots of fellow writers as friends. To me it felt like a very realistic description of what its like to write a manuscript.
“I don’t write because I think I have something to say. I write because if I don’t, everything feels even worse.
“It’s a particular kind of pleasure, of intimacy, loving book with someone.”Lily King
6. The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
Lovecraft is an icon in the horror genre. He was the first writer to explore supernatural literature and the innate fear of the human psyche. I, myself am not a horror fan, but I read this to pay homage to a writer known for his creativity and influence on the genre to come.
It wasn’t as grotesque as I was expecting, and for someone with a low tolerance for gory scenes I was happy to find that most of the horror described is fear of the unknown. I think it’s worth a read to expand your reading palette and maybe you’ll find some inspiration to bring to your own work.
“Only poetry or madness could do justice to the noises heard by Legrasse‘s men as they ploughed on through the black morass toward the red glare and muffled tom-toms.”H.P. Lovecraft
I’d like to know if you’ve read any of these books and I’d be happy to hear what you thought of them. Also, if you have have other recommendations for writers drop them in the comments below 🙂 Happy reading!
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